Currently, 99% of society is being plagued by the horrible illusion that money equals success, and they couldn’t be further from the truth.
I was one of these people myself, constantly exposed to the fact that getting a stable, high-paying job would allow me to buy the things I always wanted, making me happy, and in turn, successful. Until it hit me.
“Whatever it may be in the world, no one ever seems to have enough of it.”
Everyone always wants to get a little tad extra out of life, and it doesn’t necessarily — whether it’s a better job, a bigger house, or happier relationships, dreaming beyond our current circumstances is something we do all the time, and it was a key factor in our unparalleled growth and survival as a species.
Thousands of years ago, as soon as our ancestors realized didn’t constantly have to worry about getting eaten or living to see the light of another day, they were able to afford the time to notice smaller problems around them. Using this approach, humans developed agriculture, discovered electricity, designed planes, and made way for every innovation and application to come after it.
In the 21st century, society’s changing perceptions of joy are being pressed into your head without you knowing it, and your perceptions are changing as well, leaving you chasing after dreams that you might have never been looking for in the first place. Even now, you might be looking for tactics to level up your salary, save up for a shiny car, or something as simple as buying a phone with longer battery life than your last.
“Whichever way we put it, our quest for better is nonstop, even when we want to stay fulfilled in other ways.”
This concept bridges the opinions of almost every philosophical leader — uniting revolutionaries spanning from Confucius to Alexander the Great.
Almost every renowned philosopher, including Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle has stated that our tendency to want more is a gift that we should accept and pursue throughout our lives.
So why is this mindset so dysfunctional? If our tendency to do, feel, and get better is a gift, then why not unwrap it?
The Side-Effects of Success
Even though following our dreams gives our lives substance and meaning, focusing on wanting more can make our journey completely self-centered and monetary. Think about all the things you associate with success — the fast cars, huge mansions, and money that usually come to mind show that people are missing the fact that this isn’t the only form of fulfillment.
The simple act of pursuing success has completely blinded society towards their end goals — the first thing people associate with any form of fulfillment is related to money.
One of the reasons that we’ve become so separated from this reality is the correlation we form between money and happiness. While we think it’s only logical to see a “successful” person and attribute the size of their savings account to any joy they might experience, the reality is completely the opposite. As it turns out, the very people we idolize for their success and fulfillment are either:
a) Sourcing their happiness from sources other than wealth.
b) Showcasing a small portion of their lives where they put up a facade of fulfillment, all while being stuck in a vicious cycle of greed.
Sadly, when you finally achieve a goal that you set for yourself, it feels nothing like you thought it would. When you reach success, just like a rainbow, it moves further away, and in time, nothing is enough to satisfy your craving, and you remain unfulfilled, which was the very reason you chose to pursue success in the first place.
What’s more surprising is that we refuse to acknowledge this truth, even when successful people say it themselves. We’re knowingly wandering away from the truth of fulfillment, and it’s why so many people can’t seem to find their purpose in life.
When you hear a billionaire mogul on TV saying that money isn’t everything, chances are you smirked at the sheer irony, probably labeling the statement as cheesy or uninformed.
“Easy for them to say,” you might tell yourself, and you would have a point, but taking some time to analyze the situation, you would see that out of all people, a successful would get the least satisfaction from telling you this and devaluing their accomplishments.
“What most people fail to see is that the majority of billionaires saying that money isn’t everything, and in fact, any successful person saying that success isn’t everything has no incentive to be doing so.”
The majority of people who planned, executed, and achieved their goals all mention that a small portion of their happiness(if any), comes from their wealth. To me, as well as most people. this would be so counter-intuitive — after all, more money means more things, and more things means more happiness, right?
Successful people have seen a lot more than most — they’ve experienced the feeling of wanting to be something, as well as the sensation of being something. In retrospect, their current opinion of success completely and utterly mismatched their previous expectations of what it would feel like. Understanding and learning from their regrets prevents us from having the same ones in the future.
So, does this mean you shouldn’t chase after success?
Of course not — all it means is that you should think twice before using wealth to measure it, and as a result, getting stuck in a vicious cycle of greed and depression. It also means that you should be working towards realizing your dreams rather than the ones society and others have made for you. True joyful fulfillment comes from going on a journey to achieve what you thought was great, and I have to tell you, no other feeling can compare to that.